Saturday, April 07, 2007

Its Not Just The Weather That's Cold

This one was bitter, and I am not just talking about the Frigid Weather. Our Washington Nationals continued to struggle at the plate, not delivering in the clutch. Once again, a Nats Starting Pitcher did not have his best stuff early. Both combining with a decent effort by Arizona's Brandon Webb on the mound tonight to shutdown The Nats and give The Arizona Diamondbacks a, never in doubt, 7-1 win at RFK Stadium.

Nothing seemed to find its groove for Washington or its fans. Even the appearance of all 4 "Noise Boys" for the first time this season in Section 320, PROVIDED NO MAGIC. The low 30 Degree Weather affecting, not only Our Washington Nationals, but also the noise level behind the 3rd Base Dugout. When your knees are shaking and your teeth chattering in the frigid air, its hard to get excited when nothing was happening on the field of play.

Since Dimitri Young hit his game winning fly single on Wednesday afternoon to score Kory Casto against Florida, not a single Nationals hitter has knocked in a runner from scoring position. Collectively, Washington going 0-24 over the past three games. Worse, throughout the course of the first six games of 2007, Our Washington Nationals have NEVER LED in a single game before a pitch was put into play. That's remarkable. Our bats are cold, and as the struggles go deeper into this very early part of the season, it appears, some players are trying to do to much, in an attempt to pick up the slack of others. These guys just need to relax and have a good game. Too many are forgetting their game plans, swinging at far too many first pitches, and out thinking themselves at the plate.

Maybe Livan Hernandez can provide some medicine tomorrow. Livo, The King Of The Hill for difficult first innings, (a scene Washington fans came to know well in 2005 & 2006) faces his former teammates tomorrow. As much as I love Number 61, The Nationals need to bat around on him a few times. Just one good solid win, can turn the attitude around.

John Patterson was given his second start of the season. And, like The Home Opener, he struggled mightily in the very first inning. JP labored through 31 pitches, consistently rotating his right throwing shoulder, and looked completely uncomfortable. By the time Number 22 found a groove, he had given up 2 walks, a single, a two RBI scoring double by Chad Tracey to left and a sacrifice fly by Tony Clark. When the first inning ended, once again, The Nationals down three runs before taking their first at bats. Although, Patterson would make it through 5 innings, shutting down The Diamondbacks for the remainder of his outing. Unfortunately, the damage was done.

After 88 pitches, exactly half (44) for strikes, 4 hits and 4 walks, John was replaced by Jesus Colome. Colome would proceed to put the game away for good. In one inning of work, Jesus allowed three hits, one walk and three runs. 6-0 now, and many in the ANNOUNCED crowd of 16,617 headed for the warmth of their cars. By the time this one was over, only a few hundred were actually still watching baseball at RFK STADIUM.

Our Nationals only real chance tonight came early, when, with one out, in the third inning--Felipe Lopez and Kory Casto both lined solid singles and were followed by a Ryan Zimmerman walk to load the bases. Only to see Dimitri Young ground into a rally killing 4-6-3 double play. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, Webb, was not at his best on this cold night. But, despite going to the mound in short sleeves (to everyone's surprise) he battled through 7 innings of 7 hit and three walk ball. Each time Brandon got into trouble, he stepped up to strike out The Washington Hitter (8 times) or induce them into a double play grounder (twice). That's the sign of a quality pitcher, delivering when you don't have your best stuff.

Washington would get its only score in the bottom of the sixth with 2 outs, when Austin Kearns would hammer Webb's first pitch to him down the left field line at the foul pole. Third Base Umpire Jerry Meals ruled the ball a home run--giving the home crowd something to cheer for. Although replays showed the ball to clearly land in foul territory. The call stood, despite a 5 minute protest by Arizona's Manager Bob Melvin.

With the game well out of hand now, Our Manager--Manny Acta, sent out Chad Cordero to get some work in the 9th. Showing some rust from getting virtually no work during the first week of the 2007 season, "The Chief" was not sharp. Number 32 gave up 3 hits, including a homer to left by Eric Byrnes in 21 total pitches. You could tell, when he walked off the field after his 9th inning mop up job, he was very unhappy with himself. Cordero needs some more consistent work.

Through the first six games of 2007, Our Washington Nationals have managed only 1 win. They have not looked good, in just about any capacity. Starting pitching has been less than stellar. On defense, fundamental mistakes are hurting them. And, at the plate, their bats, just like the weather, extremely cold right now. This team needs a blowout, hopefully, our Old Friend, Livan Hernandez can provide that relief on Easter Sunday.

Game Notes & Highlights

Twice Tonight, Nats leftfielder Kory Casto over threw the cutoff man on hits to left. Both times allowing the trail runner to move up. Kory, hit the cutoff man.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, D'Angelo Jimenez was in the game replacing Ronnie Belliard at second. Jimenez drew a walk. Felipe Lopez would then ground a routine hopper up the middle to the second base side of the bag. Diamondbacks second basemen Orlando Hudson moved in and snared the grounder. With D'Angelo running hard toward second, attempting to break up the double play, Hudson paused, attempting to tag out Jimenez and throw to first for the double play. The very instant Hudson moved forward to tag D'Angelo, Jimenez stopped dead in his tracks and backed up. Orlando, confused, decided to throw the ball to first, slinging it off his wrong foot. The ball bounced well in front of the bag. Both Jimenez and FLop safe. Very strange play. All Hudson had to do was wait and tag out Jimenez or toss the ball to Stephen Drew standing on second to get the lead runner. Instead, he rushed and got no one out. Really, it was odd. One of those moments that comes along in a game, that you have never seen before.

In the top of the 8th inning, The Diamondbacks Robby Hammock would hit a high chopper down the third baseline in the infield. Ryan Zimmerman, performing a defensive move as fine as you will ever see the play made, charged in, gloved the ball, while crossing over into foul territory, and unleashed a GORGEOUS underarm sideways toss to Dimitri Young at first. There is NO PLAYER in Major League Baseball that consistently makes that play as well as Ryan Zimmerman.

MickNats would surprise MY BEST FRIEND & The African Queen tonight. Apparently TOPPS Trading Cards, The Baseball Card Company, has produced a special series of Mascot Trading Cards in 2007. MickNats showed up with both the regular edition card of Screech and the limited edition Gold Foil Numbered One. MickNats nicely presented a set to The African Queen, and another to SCREECH. The Queen was very pleased. Screech broke down and cried, hugging MickNats, thanking him for his kindness.

Finally, Section 320 was honored again tonight by Mr. Ed Cordero. Chad's Father joined us, sitting in Section 320 for the entire game. He and The African Queen sharing blankets to stay warm. Mr. Cordero was great. He is a very kind and considerate man. Although, he can't wait to get back to the warmth of Southern California.

Game Photos-AP, Susan Walsh


Eddie Cunningham said...

People were talking about how winter "had returned" the past few days, but the truth is that cold evenings like that are NORMAL for early April. That's why the season used to open in the middle of the month rather than April 1st.

I know baseball needs the revenue, but if you have to play the games this early, it only makes sense to have most of them in the afternoon. (If the D-Back just travelled from a Phoenix or the West Coast, I'd play the first game at night to give them some rest, but the rest of the series should be played in the daytime.) Since this is Holy Week or spring break, many people will be off of work anyway. The fact that the Nats would be playing while during working hours would be compensated by the fact that more people would be WILLING to go to the ballpark. The Nats will make more money if they actually had 19,000 fans in the ballpark rather than just listed as paid attendance.

Oh, and Happy Easter! I hope to see you at the game today!

JayB said...

The problem is a lot worse than just a few guys pressing too hard.

Example.....Casto an outfielder before a 3rd baseman has not been told to the hit cut off men it seems. Twice we gave up second base because he has no fear of Acta's response.....worse than Little League Fundamentals errors.

I was not at this game but it seems our worse fear of THE PLAN have come true already...losing big all the time hurts the long term development of young players.

Seems like plenty of empty seats down low for everyone willing to come out and watch blowout after blowout......what do you think the Nats should do now with fans wanting to move up seats?

JayB said...

Team and Crowd were dead yet again today.

Official Scorer for NATS is very kind...Should have been 3 errors today not just 1!

Hope a trip on the road shakes things up, but...

I got an autograph today for a child from Manny, I looked into his eyes....he did not look relaxed, confident or upbeat at all, very tight it seemed to me.....He is getting screwed by bad Kasten decisions (The Plan and all the planned losing is the biggest problem and the main reason the young talent looks so bad).

Jimbo was behind the cage drinking Starbucks....I think he is gone very soon as the scapegoat and really, Jimbo will be the lucky one if that happens, this team is dead and headed to well over 100 loses. Nice PLAN Stan!

Eddie Cunningham said...

Everyone can't hit like Babe Ruth or pitch like Sandy Koufax. But I agree with jayb that Acta has to act to get the Nats to throw to the right base. We have been giving up runs in the first inning for EVERY GAME NOW. If the outfielders do not make screw ups like that, we can get out of the inning. If we can get out of the inning, then our pitchers think we have a chance to win. If the pitchers think we have a chance to win, then so do our batters.

I'm willing to be patient, but I think that Nats' fans biggest fears is that the team will become the Pittsburgh Pirates on the Potomac. The Bucs play in a beautiful ballpark and make lots of money, but the owner would rather keep the payroll down than try to compete. In other words, fans may fear that the low payroll and young players are not a means to an end but an end in and of itself.

RallyTime Richard said...


Discipline is not just a verb, it is also a noun. Discipline used as a verb is how you let someone know they did wrong.

Discipline the noun is what the Nats need. Discipline in baseball means fundamentals, both athletic and mental fundamentals. Anyone who knows me knows that I use the word fundamentals all the time, but I think I've found a new favorite...